Suncorp stadium is set to host the biggest day in the NRL calendar with new south wales unable to host the event due to the current covid crisis in the state, ARLC chairman Peter Vlandys has been in talks with both the new south wales and queensland governments over the decision. This would be the first time in 114 years that a grand final would be played outside of sydney. Additionally for queensland footy fans, some of the final series matches are set to be played in regional stadiums in Mackay, Sunshine Coast, Townsville and Rochampton.
Tourism experts estimate that the grand final will generate around $25 million for the queensland economy. The decision is expected to be annouced in the week as it has been delayed due to the NRL charter flight scandal, which lead to a public appology from the queensland premier.
from the weekend australian 05.09.2021
Suncorp Stadium is on the verge of clinching a historic NRL grand final in a $25 million coup for the Queensland government and rugby league fans in the Sunshine State.
The Sunday Mail can reveal the Queensland government is poised to prevail in a six-week battle for the NRL grand final, edging out Sydney’s Stadium Australia, New Zealand and Melbourne to celebrate a Suncorp spectacular.
It looms as a landmark decision for the hallowed home of Queensland rugby league, with the NRL to break a 114-year tradition by moving the grand final out of Sydney for Suncorp’s first decider on Sunday, October 3.
League fans across the state will be treated to high-octane finals football with the NRL to take playoffs matches to Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton and the Sunshine Coast as part of the deal.
Industry sources have told The Sunday Mail the code is bracing for a formal announcement from the Queensland government this week in the lead-up to the start of the NRL finals series this Friday night.
NRL bosses were expecting Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to declare Suncorp as the winning venue on Friday. However, it is understood Palaszczuk delayed the announcement following fierce backlash over the NRL charter-flight fiasco which prompted her public apology.
ARLC chairman Peter V’landys has been locked in delicate talks with Palaszczuk and the NSW government, who have rights to the NRL grand final for the next 25 years under their $2.1 billion stadia redevelopment plan.
But the NSW government is resigned to a one-off transfer to Suncorp in the wake of the Covid crisis that has sent their entire state into lockdown, shutting the doors on a grand-final crowd at Homebush.
The NRL has been exploring a number of grand-final options during the fresh Covid saga. New Zealand’s Eden Park and the Melbourne Cricket Ground have been touted as viable contingencies.
Melbourne Storm supremo Matt Tripp also had dialogue with V’landys about buying the grand final himself and hosting it at the MCG.
But the NRL will opt to reward the Queensland government with the 2021 NRL grand final as a virtual goodwill gift for saving the Telstra Premiership, which was forced to relocate north in early July after NSW’s worst Covid outbreak.
Talks are so advanced the NRL has locked in ticketing prices for a maiden Suncorp grand final.
Should Brisbane be forced into a snap Covid lockdown in coming weeks, Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank is a Plan B contingency, just as it was in June when it answered an SOS to host the State of Origin series opener.
Suncorp Stadium boss Alan Graham said it would be a dream come true to host the NRL grand final.
“It’s been our aspiration for not just the stadium but all Queenslanders to have the grand final of their game up here,” he said.
“It will be so fitting if that’s what happens. It will be a shot in the arm for the whole state.
“A grand final is something else. It’s something we never thought we’d see in our lifetime.
“If it does happen it will be great.”
Suncorp blocked out the first weekend of October when scheduling the upcoming Rugby Championship Tests in the hope of securing the NRL decider.
Suncorp will not host any matches during the first two weeks of the upcoming NRL finals to ensure the 52,500-capacity home of Queensland rugby league is in pristine condition for the NRL grand final.
“We’ve had to be prudent about all of that,” Graham said of Suncorp’s careful scheduling.
“We’ve had to plan ahead just in case (Suncorp wins the NRL decider).”
The AFL bucked longstanding traditions to shift their grand final from the MCG to the Gabba last year following the Covid ordeal in Melbourne and now their footballing rivals the NRL will follow suit.
Tourism industry experts estimate a Suncorp grand final will inject at least $25m to the Queensland economy. The NRL‘s Magic Round in May at Suncorp generated almost $20 million.
Queenslanders have not seen a rugby league decider on their turf since 1997, when 58,912 fans flocked to ANZ Stadium to watch the Broncos beat Cronulla 26-8 in Super League grand final.
Even if Homebush‘s 80,000-seat Stadium Australia could operate at 50 per cent capacity, a full-house of 52,500 at Suncorp Stadium would be a more financially attractive proposition for an NRL administration that is counting every penny.
Retired NRL legend and former Queensland Origin captain Cameron Smith said Suncorp deserves to host a once-in-a-lifetime rugby league grand final.
“It’s huge. It’s huge,” he said.
“I think it is a no-brainer – it has to be at Suncorp.
“Queensland have been huge supporters of rugby league for a long, long time.
“Many consider it the heartland of rugby league. I believe that it is.
“The NRL grand final has always been in Sydney but if a grand final is ever going to move out of Sydney, it is a no brainer, it has to be Brissie.
“They will pack it to the rafters no matter who makes the grand final.”
In a further big-game coup, the NRL will reward Queensland regional and bush fans by taking four matches in the opening week of the finals next weekend to Sunshine Coast, Townsville and Rochampton.
Mackay is then slated to host both sudden-death playoff games on the weekend of September 17-18, giving Suncorp time to host at least one preliminary final and the NRL grand final.
Broncos and Maroons legend Darren Lockyer has won countless Origin games at Suncorp and urged the NRL to reward the people of Queensland.
“We have been talking about it for more than a decade … does Suncorp deserve a grand final,” Lockyer told Channel 9.
“A grand final at Suncorp would be a big event.
“The best experience I had as a league player was running out at Suncorp in a Maroons jersey.
“For the two (grand-final) teams, it would be the ultimate because the atmosphere is unrivalled at Suncorp.”
Former Broncos skipper Corey Parker wants a 4pm afternoon grand-final timeslot for Suncorp as part of a gala day of entertainment around the precinct.
“If they do it right it could be a real carnival, one of a kind,” he said.
“Whether they could have it at 4pm in the afternoon and make a real show of it? That could be one way they could look at it as opposed to an 8pm grand final.
“It is a real opportunity to do things a little bit differently, close off Caxton Street and have bands and entertainment for the fans.
“The grand final will be at Suncorp. It’s just a matter of when they announce it. It is a great reward for the state that kept the game alive.”